Year 13: 170 films, 30 nations

Category: Dear Frankie News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 11, 2004 | Publication: St. Louis Today | Author: Joe Williams
Publication/Article Link:

The St. Louis International Film Festival - which runs tonight through Nov. 21
at the Tivoli and Hi-Pointe theaters and Webster University - turns 13 this
year. Since its awkward beginnings in the nursery of the Esquire Theatre, SLIFF
has grown confident and strong, and it is now courted by the major studios.
Like a typical teenager, it is prone to experimentation, yet it's still as
eager to please as a teacher's pet.

This cinematic smarty-pants is especially keen on geography. The 170 films
(including features, documentaries and shorts) come from 30 countries. Among
the festival's flashiest imports are "Bad Education," a cross-dressing neo-noir
thriller from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, and "House of Flying of
Daggers," a kung-fu epic from China's Zhang Yimou that ought to appeal to the
after-school arcade gang.

Also on SLIFF's schedule this semester are classes - er, thematic sidebars - on
religion, African-American history, women's studies, music and (yep) sex
education.

Yet, while it's a bona-fide bookworm, SLIFF can be as starstruck as the next
teen. Along with onscreen heartthrobs like Johnny Depp ("Finding Neverland")
and Gerard Butler ("Dear Frankie"), the festival will feature numerous
flesh-and-blood luminaries, including Ken Kwapis, the homegrown director of
festival entry "Sexual Life" and countless episodes of "Malcolm in the Middle";
Bill Condon, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Chicago" and director of the
personal-hygiene flick "Kinsey"; and Jack Valenti, the retiring president of
the Motion Picture Association of America, who helped create the ratings system
that is supposed to keep 13-year-olds from sneaking into movies for grown-ups.

To underscore that 13 isn't far removed from childhood, the festival will offer
five daytime screenings with free admission for children and youths. Sure to be
popular with kids of all ages is "The World's Greatest Fair," the locally made
documentary about the 1904 World's Fair that packed the Fox last summer.

On the other hand, parental permission slips might be necessary for nighttime
screenings of documentaries about the Coral Court Motel, the history of tattoos
and the many uses of, um, personal massagers.

The real pleasure of the festival, however, is in the elective courses, those
screenings where eager students of cinema take a gamble on the unknown. So
matriculating movie buffs are encouraged to assemble a schedule from the
following roster.